A reflection from Justin Thacker as he steps down from his role as Director of Church Action for Tax Justice.
Two years ago, I started working for Church Action for Tax Justice. I was its first employee and worked part-time. Two years on, we have tripled the number of supporters, grown to 1.2 staff, and increased our fundraising – especially from individual supporters like you. All of this during 16 months of covid.
None of that matters, however, if we haven’t actually made any difference in the world of tax justice. In that regard, it is always hard to measure our impact. One of the reasons for this is that numerous different factors contribute to our ultimate aim of changing government policy towards a fairer tax system. These include the global and national economic landscape, global politics, the work of other campaigning organisations (on both sides of the debate) and in our case – a global pandemic.
I suspect when we look back in 5 or 10 years’ time, we will recognise the G7 agreement to establish a global minimum corporate tax rate as the most significant moment in the last two years. However, it is impossible to tell whether our activities – the social media campaign, the hundreds of MP letters from supporters, the reports we have written, the debates in parliament we sparked – made any difference to that outcome.
I would suggest that what matters is not whether we can demonstrate the impact of our actions but whether we believe our actions are those that God has called us to do. The truth is that if we only directed our activity towards that which can be measured we would probably miss out on some of the greatest contributions we can make.
I am reminded here of the differing results that Peter and Stephen achieved in their sermons in the book of Acts (Acts 2 & Acts 7). Both men preached to a group of unbelievers, both men were inspired by the Holy Spirit, both men preached of Christ, both of them called for repentance – yet one of them saw 3,000 people converted and one of them was stoned to death.
In a society obsessed with measurement, we all want to be Peters, but in this final blog can I suggest that we need to be willing, at least, to be Stephens. As has been said so many times, ‘we are not called to success, but simply to faithfulness’. Trying to make the case for a fairer, more righteous tax system has been my call for the last couple of years, and I hope I have done it faithfully. Whether or not it has been successful is up to others to judge.